A bird calls out into the blinding sunlight as it cuts a path through the air on its wings, soaring like magic, flying like dreams. It is hope and freedom and every poorly conceived notion of ideology that has ever existed or indeed will ever exist, be it in the hearts of the young or the memories of the old.
Other birds respond in kind, giving their warrior cry, announcing their existence to the universe, and together they flutter and and flitter and they form a cloud of black and gold that floats in no discernible pattern across the afternoon sky. From below, we watch them, we wonder what it feels like to have the wind at our backs and the sun so close to our faces, what it must be like to taste such glorious absence of fear and doubt.
Oh, but fear and doubt are with us, as they always have been, as they always will be. They loom in the distance like a coming plague, but they linger in our bones as does regret and longing, and they are handed down from parent to child in this dark, dark world.
Yet still we look up, we gander above us and we marvel at the tiny creatures taking flight. We stare into the night sky, at the canvas of darkness, and we try to count the stars, and though we fail, we continue to try, because that is in our nature as much as the cold shadows of fear and doubt. Inside us all are these things called hatred and anger, but so exists hope. So exists wonder and amazement and so exists the capacity to love and to be loved, and that is what allows us to move forward in this world. Not to be pushed, or to be lifted up, but rather we are pulled by these things, these fragile and delicate concepts, out of the darkness and into the light. The warm, forgiving light.
But darkness does exist for a purpose and to ignore it, to say to oneself or others that the darkness is without merit or should be paid no mind, is an absurd attempt to fool oneself, to blind oneself to the reality of life. It need not consume you, the coldness of fear, it need not trouble you more than is necessary, for you are not alone in the battle to survive in this chaotic plane of existence.
Life is indeed a miracle, not one of divinity, but of the hard work and struggle of billions of years of evolution and just a little bit of blind cosmic luck. We are brought into this world of fresh horrors and wonders, and we do so screaming. We are raised with the beliefs of our mother and father, beliefs to be tested later in life at which time we determine if we will cast these beliefs aside as lies or grip them tighter and sing their gospel until our dying breath. We travel through the world and see as many things as our eyes can see, hear as many sounds as our ears can hear, and love as many people as our hearts can carry and then we love a few more beyond that. That is what life is, it is learning, it is loving, it is feeling the sting of uncertainty and the dull ache of solitude, it is hearing your favorite song for the first time or seeing the smile of the one person you love more than anything else in this big, big world.
Let no one tell you that he or she is more evolved than you, that they have come farther than you, for we are all equals in this mad race through the void. We are all together. We are one. None of us need face the darkness alone, for we are not alone, and none of us need worry or fret about US vs THEM any longer, for the two are now joined together in a singularity of love and light.
Sit back and ponder your place in the universe, for it is vast and we are tiny, but our hearts and minds are so very large and wonderful. May whoever is reading this know love and peace on a level so deep that they never go without either again.
He stood atop the hill of sand and stared at the ocean, allowing his eyes to get lost in the waves. He never felt so small than when he stood near the sea, but he never felt so at home or at peace. The world behind him faded away and it was only him and the water, he wriggled his toes into the sand below him, as though he were making an absentminded attempt to grip the earth below him and thwart anyone from dragging him away.
She knew him better than anyone else ever did and gave credence to the old saying “knows me better than I know myself”, which he often told anyone who would listen. She climbed the hill slowly, hoping to find him there, hoping to see his hair dancing in the wind. She reached the top and was blinded by the sunlight mirrored off the water. His silhouette was clear and he stood exactly how she thought he would be, shoes off and next to his feet, coat folded neatly and resting atop his shoes, his head facing up to allow the breeze coming in off the sea to pass directly into his nostrils.
“I’ve been looking for you.” She said. He didn’t move. “You scared me, disappearing like that.”
“I needed to get away.” He said, breaking his silence.
“From me?” She asked. He turned and smiled sadly at her.
“Never from you.”
“From what, then?” She asked.
“Everything else.” He said. He once again faced the ocean, he sat down with his legs crossed. He patted a patch of sand next to him.
“You could have talked to me.” She said, taking a seat next to him. He sat silently, eyes closed and breathing deeply. “You could talk to me now, too.”
“I love you.” He said.
“I love you, too.” She said, “But that’s not a reas-“
“I used to come here when I was a kid.” He interrupted, “I used to come here when my mother was still alive and I would look out over the water, trying to see what was on the other side. After she died, I stopped coming here for years.”
“You never told me that.” She said, “We came here for our third date.”
“That’s because I knew I wanted to marry you after our second date.” He said, “That night that we spent on this beach, right here on this hill, was the most important night of my life.”
She took his hand and they stared out at the water in silence for a few moments.
“What made you come back today?” She asked.
“Honestly? I don’t know.” He said, “Maybe because I was thinking of my mother, maybe because I knew you’d think to find me here.”
“What happened?” She asked.
“I just- I lost it, you know?” He said, “I hate my job, I miss my mother, I’m overweight and balding. The world is in such disarray and I feel so lost sometimes.”
“Everyone does.” She said, “Life doesn’t make sense to anyone, it’s all in how you cope.”
“How do you cope?” He asked.
“Wine, mostly.” She said. He laughed and took off his glasses. He rubbed his eyes. “Are you okay?”
“Yes.” He said, “I’m sorry I didn’t come to you.”
“Actually, I understand.” She said, “Sometimes things get so overwhelming that you’re afraid to let anyone in, for fear of dragging them down with you. I’ve been there. I think we all have. But just promise me one thing.”
“What’s that?” He asked.
“Next time you need to come here, next time you need to get away, please tell me.” She said, “I will give you as much time as you need, as much space, but you’ve got to let me know what’s happening.”
“I love you.” He said.
“I love you, too.” She said, “And you’re not that overweight.”
“Jesus.” He said. She scooted closer and rested her head on his shoulder and together they sat, eyes closed while the sounds and smells of the beach washed over them, well into the night.
Think back, how ever long it may take you, to the last time you were sick. Not hay fever, not a mild case of allergic reaction, but really and truly weighted down with sickness. The ache that is felt down to the marrow within your bones, your head stuffed with a goo that makes it impossible to breathe, the dizziness that skews your perception to one in which the very world around you tilts and tries its very damnedest to throw you off of your feet and straight on your ass, like a prize winning bull with something to prove.
Now think of the first day after that long sickness had taken its grasp of you that you started to feel better. The ache fading, the goo retreating, the dizziness disappearing as you find yourself dancing around your kitchen in your week old pair of plaid pajama bottoms for the inexplicable reason being simply that you can.
Now imagine being told that things are different now, that this is a new sickness and that the days of getting better are over. Imagine owning the terrible knowledge that this awful plague with which you have been burdened will not only be the death of you but something much, much worse. That is life within the world we now live, that is how this world now turns, this rotting apple filled with worms and disease.
It was four days, six hours, thirty-eight minutes, and who knows how many seconds since Liam Campbell had been bitten and he began to wonder what the hell was taking so long. Did it always take this long? It was then he realized he’d never seen it happen first hand. That he’d never witnessed the whole horrible scenario play out from bite, to death, to… What? What came next? Liam found himself in a weird place between fear and curiosity, as he wanted to know the answer to that question, yet not at the cost of his own humanity.
Liam had no knowledge of how or when this all started, but he knew one thing for certain: The world had gone very bad, very quickly. The first news reports regarding the new world order, if you could call it that, played out like a horror movie. Moving images of reporters who were “on the scene” where senseless and violent attacks were occurring, at first all over the United States, and then the world. These reports were always brief, only lasting up until the moment the person reporting on the violence became enveloped by it themselves. Horrible scenes of flesh being torn from bones and faces being eaten from skulls, riots in the streets, fires and looting and gunfire from above. An apocalyptic turn of events, the possible —some would even say inevitable— extinction of our species, was being televised.
The television signals stopped soon thereafter, as did the electricity, and the phone lines and all other forms of communication followed suit. The world went dark within one month of the first report being aired.
Months had passed beyond that day and Liam found himself with a group of people, none of whom he had known prior to the world going to shit, and together they fought their way across the country hoping to find something, though they had no idea what that something was. A safe place? Did such a thing exist in this hell on Earth? A cure? Was that even possible? Was that even worth it now that so many had already died? What was left to save?
He couldn’t let the questions get the best of him, as they did so many others. The group was once fifteen people strong, but soon it dwindled to eight and then to five. It was then that Liam was bitten and made the grim decision, the sacrificial choice, to leave the group. On the surface, this seemed like the heroic option, that he would cast himself away from the now tiny group of survivors (a title few had earned, yet no one liked) to save them from what he would soon undoubtedly become. But deep within his heart, Liam knew the truth. That this was the cowards way out. If he had truly been a hero, he would have lodged a bullet into his own brain the moment he freed his arm from the jaws of the once-living-now-dead mailman who had done him in. No. Liam was no hero, he was well aware of that fact.
Liam separated from the group, said his tearful goodbyes to what was the only group of living human beings he had seen in far too long, to what had become in a twisted sense, a family. To what he feared would be the last of the live ones on the entirety of the planet Earth. He bid them farewell, giving them what food and water he had on his person, though it was not much, along with any ammunition he had in his pockets, though he kept the knife. He could surely still use the knife for something, he thought. On he pressed, in the opposite direction of the group of four tiny creatures fighting the darkness, alone and afraid.
Liam clutched the knife in his good hand and walked for what felt like forever, but what had only been four days, six hours, thirty-eight minutes, and who knows how many seconds, until he found himself in a deserted alley way between an abandoned apartment building and an empty McDonald’s. He collapsed against the wall, sliding to a seated position, still holding that knife, and he listened. He no longer heard the shuffling of decaying feet or the groans of rotten vocal chords and he could not figure as to whether that made him feel better or worse.
He sat there for a day. His right arm, the bitten one, had turned a vile shade of green and the wound spewed forth a steady spray of yellow puss every so often. He wondered if the hunger and weakness he felt were the first signs of his descent into a lifetime (what an awful word, he thought, for how long could a lifetime truly be, especially when you’re not even alive to experience it?) of being one of the undead or simply due to him not eating for nearly a week.
Liam wondered when he would finally be done with all of this, when he would finally be rid of pain and of fear, and he also wondered if the undead version of himself would come across what ever was left of his former traveling band of misfits. He wondered if they would even recognize him. He wondered if any of them still lived. He hoped they did, he hoped they found what ever it was they were looking for.
Liam closed his eyes and drifted off to something resembling sleep, the last thing he would ever hear was the sound of the knife falling to the ground. This was his end.
He poured himself another glass of the alcohol from the cabinet above the fridge. What was it? Bourbon? Whiskey? He was not in control of his faculties enough to know or care what it was, as he drank it down, as it numbed the shock he felt in his heart and the pain in his arm. The pain kept him alert. Too alert.
He caught himself staring at the closet door with such intensity he feared he may burn a hole through it, but he didn’t want to do that. If that door were to open, if that wood were to smoke and fade away into ash while he stared, it would let the thing inside out. He didn’t know what to do, where else he could look. The moonlight cascading in through the window caught his eye and as he turned his head to it the thing moaned from behind the closet door, bringing his attention back to the chipped blue paint and the small brass hook on which he had only once hung his hat.
“Shut up!” he cried, throwing the glass in fearful reflex. Silence. It stopped at his request, a fact he found far more troubling than if it had simply ignored him and continued. It showed intelligence, it showed recognition. He told it to shut up and that is exactly what it did. Why did that scare him? Why did the silence frighten him more than the awful sounds it made on the other side of that old wooden door?
His heart pounded in his chest like a drum and every beat made the pain worse. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t remember where the thing had come from, let alone the exact moment it had dug its claws into his arm. Blood pooled on the floor around him and he began to feel weak. He fought against every blink of his eye as each one lasted longer and bled into the next. From behind the closet door, he heard something stir.
“It won’t be long now.” he thought, or did he? He must have thought it. Or did he hear it? His eyelids slowly drifted together and his head leaned back, causing him to collapse into the nearest chair.
“So much blood.” he whispered, “So much blood.”
A horrible sound filled the air, the sound of claws scraping against wood, the sound of tentacles wriggling and of teeth biting at the air. He fought against the urge to sleep, the desire to give in to unconsciousness, he rallied against it like a soldier on the rampage, but it didn’t matter. He was slipping and he knew it. He slumped down and slid off the edge of the bed, taking the blanket with him, landing with a thud. He couldn’t recall its face, if it even had one, but somehow he knew it was smiling as the wood began to splinter. He could feel it.
The buses would run all day and all night where he came from, but not here. Not in this sleepy coastal town. He still wasn’t used to that, or much of anything else since the big move. He had become so used to city living, to a world that was open twenty-four hours a day, to a world where the lights never went out and people never stopped moving. Social situations, scenarios in which many people gathered and spoke to one another over drinks in rooms where smoke filled the air and everyone was trying to impress someone, were never his strong suit. Most of his time in that world, in the days of late night walks through neon littered streets, was spent alone amongst the crowd, and he liked it that way.
What was the old saying? Going from a big fish in small pond to a small fish in a big ocean is never easy on the ego. But when you grow up a small fish in a big ocean, a small fish with an even smaller ego, it’s the move to a small pond that can prove an even harsher blow to your sense of self and view of the world at large. This was not a place where he could get lost in the huddled masses, where he could blend with the crowd, no, this was a place where he stuck out like a sore thumb. A place where everyone seemed to know his name, even when he had never given it, and where his daily activities were twisted and made to fit the weekly gossip. It was all too much, at times, it was all overwhelming. He saw the irony of the situation, of feeling so suffocated by a population so small, of missing the sea of nameless faces of the big city as they were his own family.
Once a week, he made an attempt to get away from it all. It started by accident, one cold weekend evening, when he took the bus to a somewhat secluded beach and forgot the little fact that the buses stopped coming around at eleven. So, there he was, stranded on the beach with no way home and no knowledge of his surroundings other than the pacific ocean to his left. He panicked at first, wondered how he could be so stupid as to forget when the buses stopped running, wondered how he would find his way home. But then he started walking, and he walked down the coast with the stars shining above him and the moon reflecting off the water, and he noticed that, so long as he kept his sweatshirt zipped and his hood up, the cold didn’t bother him so much. He walked for hours that night, he walked until the darkness faded into dawn and until he started seeing fishing boats coming in from their nightly ventures and until he was certain he could walk no more.
He stepped off of the beach, his feet throbbing and his soul replenished, and noticed a neon sign flicker to life in the window of a nearby cafe. OPEN, the sign announced in red and blue glory, and so he stumbled in and sat at a corner booth.
“Coffee?” asked the waitress. He nodded. She returned a few moments later and filled a small ceramic cup with some damn good coffee. When he asked her where he was, she gave him a confused look before telling him. He explained what sort of evening he had, and she listened, and she gave him a piece of blueberry pie.
“On the house.” she said. She gave him three refills of coffee and directions to the nearest bus stop and he was on his way.
The bus ride home was a long one, that morning. He watched the sun pass above him while he moved from street to street, and from street to highway, and from highway to home. He felt the day pass from the chill of early morning to the warmth of afternoon and though he was tired, he did not sleep. The journey home was peaceful. Once he arrived at the familiar bus stop, the one two blocks from his apartment, the one at which he waited every morning for his daily ride to work, he smiled. And so every weekend since, he does this. He takes this bus up the coastline, as far as it will take him, and he begins his walk anew. Some nights he sleeps on the beach, some nights he doesn’t. Some nights he dares to venture off the sand and seek refuge in the unfamiliar settings, and some nights he walks quietly until dawn, until he sees his favorite cafe that serves his favorite coffee.
He no longer feels pressure during the week, nor does he feel overwhelmed by the small minds of the small coastal town around him, because he knows that once the weekend comes, once he puts on his favorite hooded sweatshirt and walks to the bus stop two blocks from his apartment, none of that will matter. He knows once that time comes, he’ll be free.
theunsluttyalleycat asked: Blustery is my favorite word right after akimbo.
Ooh, akimbo is a good one.
When he entered the room, he stalked in like a predator at a buffet of lesser creatures seen only as flesh for the feast, and no one knew a thing about him. Not his name, not where he came from, not why he was there. But primal instinct is a powerful thing and they could all tell he was a beast to be reckoned with, a creature of hell’s design. He stormed by them all, passing each one with such force it caused their heads to turn, not toward him, but away. Most pretended he wasn’t there.
“Man?” they’d say, “What man? No man here, buddy. Certainly not one in an old fashioned black and white suit, certainly not one with the face of a man who has done terrible things to good people, certainly not in this room, no sir. Not here.”
He cut a path all his own through the room and never once looked anyone in the eye. He made his way to the large oak door and he stopped. The room fell silent as everyone in it simultaneously failed their attempt to ignore the hulking stranger at the door in the back of the room. They all looked up from their places at their desks or the water coolers, they peered in from the break room door while cups of coffee shook nervously in their hands. They all sat and they waited. The man knocked upon the door only once and he listened for a response from behind it. When he received none, he sighed deeply and reached into his jacket pocket, producing a 9mm pistol, and with one brutish kick, the door splintered around the edges and nearly fell off its hinges.
The silence had been broken, and with it, the tension and the unspoken uncertainty as to how to act in this situation. This was no longer the sort of situation where one sits quietly, still and afraid, waiting for something big and loud to happen. The big and loud thing had already happened and everyone in the room acted accordingly. Cups of coffee were dropped, files and folders and scraps of paper took to the air, and the silence that had once occupied this space was now replaced by a god awful clamoring and collection of screams and curses.
Inside the office at the back, through the broken door and away from the turmoil in the room outside, the tone was much different.
“You have a lot of balls, coming here, coming into my place of business. Who the fuck do you think you are?” asked the man behind the desk. He was thin and bald, his face was mean.
“The guy with the gun usually talks first.” Said the man with the gun, “But since you asked, my name is Avery and I’m here to conduct some business of my own.”
“Your name isn’t really Avery.” said the bald man.
“You’re right, it isn’t.”
“Who’s paying you? Who’s your employer?” asked the man behind the desk, “Listen, I have a right to know who hired you to kill me.”
“You’re sure I’m here to kill you?”
“A guy shows up out of nowhere in a three piece suit and slicked back hair, looking like a mob enforcer from the 1950s. He kicks in my door and points a god damn pistol at my head. Something tells me you’re not here for a consultation.” said the bald man.
“I’ll be honest, Mr. Gabriel-“
“Please, John.” said the bald man.
“John.” Avery replied, “I’ll be honest, John. Killing you is definitely an option that is available to me right now. But that’s all it is: An option. The choice is yours, really. This could go one of two ways.”
“The fact of the matter is you owe my employer a lot of money. Money that I’m here to collect. So, the choices laid out before you are as follows: One, you give me the money that you owe my employer, all $500,000 of it, and I take my leave of you. I take my leave of you and this whole thing will serve as a learning experience.” Avery said.
“And the second option?” asked John.
“That’s when my job gets a bit messy.” Avery said, “I don’t like it when my job gets messy. You sure as hell won’t like it either.”
Time passed, minutes maybe, and there stood Avery with a pistol aimed at John Gabriel’s head. The two men held eye contact and Avery smiled.
“You’re trying to stall me, Mr. Gabriel. Your thought is that out of all your employees that ran screaming from the other room, surely at least one of them will have called the police by now. Surely the police must be on their way, and you’re hoping to hear sirens outside before you give me an answer.” Avery said, “Am I close?”
“I am.” Avery said, “Now, as cliché as it may sound, I’ve little choice here but to say it. Your money or your life, Mr. Gabriel.”
“Mr. Forsythe, your employer is Mr. Forsythe.”
“Yes.” Avery replied, “How many other people do you owe half a million dollars to?”
“Exactly.” said John. He rose from his chair and buttoned his jacket, and Avery kept the pistol trained on his forehead. “Mr. Forsythe is a desperate man, Avery. He didn’t hire you to kill me. No that would be the last thing he would want, because with me dead, he’ll never see his money again. Half of a million dollars is a lot of money, even to men like us, and if he should go to such lengths as this, as hiring a man of your obvious talent to retrieve it from me, that means one thing. He needs it now as much as I needed it when I came to him for it.”
“You’re stalling again.” Avery said.
“There’s something Mr. Forsythe does not know, Avery.” John said, “Through a series of shrewd investments, not all of them completely legal, I’ll admit, I have in fact more than quadrupled that money. My not paying him back had nothing to do with not having the money, but rather I just didn’t want to. A man in my position can afford to do things like this, you see.”
“I don’t understand.” Avery said.
“Of course you don’t.” John replied. Avery heard a familiar click from behind his head. “Avery, meet David. David is the man I hired to stop whoever Mr. Forsythe hired to get his money back, in this case, you.”
“Son of a bitch.”
“I suppose I’d expect such language from a man in your profession.” John said, “Little account for manners. Here’s the fun part: I have no reason to send you back to Mr. Forsythe alive, since it would make a much bigger impact on him to find out that a skilled retrieval expert such as yourself would turn up dead by my hand. Well, David’s hand, technically, but I keep that hand well-greased with compensation.”
“It’s true.” said David, “I’m a well-fed and obedient guard dog.”
“So, you see my dilemma, Avery.” John said, “As much as I’d like to have David here rough you up and send you on your way, I’m afraid that’s simply not in the cards for you. It’s nothing personal, though. I’m just a businessman.”
“How long has David been in your employ, Mr. Gabriel?” Avery asked. John blinked.
“Roughly six months, I suppose.”
“Since you quadrupled Mr. Forsythe’s money.” Avery said.
“Well, yes. Once I could afford it, I thought to protect myself.” said John, “I’m not stupid.”
As the roar of police sirens slowly faded in, Avery smiled. John suddenly felt uneasy, as though his stomach was attempting to warn his brain of something awful that was about to transpire. Before he could acknowledge this horrible sense of dread, John was painfully aware of the fact that he now had not one, but two pistols aimed at his head.
“What is the meaning of this?!” he shouted, raising his hands slowly.
“My friend here and I are in a particular sort of business.” Avery said, he took a step toward the desk. “It’s the sort of business one must be very well trained for. Over the course of many years, David, as you know him, and I put that training to use in the manner we just presented to you. We offered our services as retrieval experts, or as personal bodyguards. Both of those jobs paid very handsomely.”
“Like I said, well-fed puppy.” David said.
“But it wasn’t until a few years ago that we came to the realization that we were missing out on an entirely new level of this business, complete with far better compensation.” Avery said.
“You- You play one against the other.” John whispered, “One is hired to retrieve the money, the other hired to guard it, you get paid twice.”
“Plus, if both of our respective employers should meet an unfortunate end, we also get to keep the indebted amount itself.” Avery said with a smile. “We think of it as a sort of finder’s fee.”
“My god, this whole time, he’s been with me.” John said.
“Long enough to learn every thing about you.” said David, “Including where you keep your cash.” John’s eyes flashed to the ugly painting of a sea captain on the wall behind the two men with guns.
“No.” Avery said, “There? In the wall behind that ugly ass painting?”
“I know, right?” said David.
“Not very original, Mr. Gabriel.”
The sirens grew ever louder, as outside the streets were flooded with police cars and television news vans, all clamoring for a good view.
“It’s nothing personal, Mr. Gabriel.” Avery said, “We’re just businessmen.”
Two shots echoed through the air like claps of thunder and they were gone.
Five police officers armed with automatic rifles and vests that read “S.W.A.T.” in bold white letters rushed into a room in utter chaos, coffee staining the already bleakly tan carpet, important documents strewn about the floor. Once inside the office, they discovered the body of Mr. John Gabriel slumped in the chair behind his desk, dead by two precision gunshot wounds to the head. The window behind him was awash with blood. The ugly painting of a sea captain lay on the floor, ripped from the wall in which there was now an open and very empty safe.
“I’m going away for a while.” he said to no one. It echoed. “I’ve no idea when I’ll be back, but it won’t be soon. I might not be back at all.”
He reached for a coat that was no longer there and he wore an invisible hat.
“Miss me while I’m gone?” he asked the shadows cast from the moon hanging outside closed windows and the dust on the bare floorboards lay still.
The door opened then, and the light flickered on, and he turned to see the man peering in. He smiled at him and tipped his invisible hat in a greeting of an era long dead and forgotten.
“What is it?” asked the lilting voice of a woman from the hallway and the man turned to reply.
“I thought I heard someone in here.”
“No one’s lived there for years, you know that.” she said and the man shrugged. Off went the light and the door closed. The voices were gone.
He opened his mouth to speak, but quickly turned back to the empty room.
“No, I don’t know who that was. New neighbors?” he asked the darkness and the silence and the void that was once a home.
“They seem nice. Maybe I’ll stay a bit longer.”
I’ve gotten a few new followers to this blog recently, so to you, I say: Hello and welcome.
I don’t update this as often as I’d like, even though I write more often than it seems that I do. But I appreciate the follow, all the same.
I’ve been pretty lucky with this blog so far, in that I’ve gotten a few “high profile” reblogs and such. I’m pretty proud of that, silly as it might be. It just means that something is working somewhere.
I’m a pretty typical writer-type person, though, in that I don’t think I’m very good at it. Every so often someone I don’t know will tell me I’m doing a pretty okay job at it, and that makes me good enough to keep going.
There’s an About Me section, in case you’re interested, and I welcome any and all questions or comments or criticism here. I don’t really write to please anyone else, though I do try sometimes, mostly I just write because I don’t know what I’d do if I ever stopped. But I am interested in getting better, so I do accept criticism from others. I promise you, though, no matter how harshly you criticize me, I’ve probably already criticized myself even harder about whatever it is you’re messaging me about.
Anyway, long story short (WRITER HUMOR), thanks for reading.
The boat was propelled, by the force of his own two arms, for well over an hour before the man realized where he was and what he was doing. No recollection of leaving his home, or finding a row boat, or rowing it to the middle of where-ever-am-I-now. So confused, so foggy in memory, he sat and stared at his calloused hands and the splinters jutting from his thumb. The salt air stung his eyes and the world took a hazed appearance and he couldn’t blink it away no matter how hard he tried. The world around him was darkened by twilight and the water went on forever. The confusion had not yet faded when the water began to convulse beneath the boat, when the waves licked at the tiny craft like a voracious lover, when it was clear he was not as alone as he felt.
The water around the boat caused it to rise and fall and the man felt sick. He felt sick from the motion, he felt sick from the confusion, and now, last but certainly not least, he felt sick from fear. He had known water to be choppy, especially deep water and especially distant water, but this was different. This was not choppiness across the top of the ocean, this was movement from below it. He gained his composure as well as he could and he peered over the edge of the boat and into the murky dark waters beneath him. For a split second, he thought he saw something move, something very large and something very green. He felt a number of things all at once, including terror, but also something he had felt many times in his life but never had a name for. He felt as though he was being watched. There was no doubt in his mind that, as hard as he tried to see into the deep waters below him, as difficult as it was for him to see anything other than shadows beneath the waves, something else was looking directly back at him and, whatever that something was, it saw him with perfect clarity.
The boat trembled, as his body trembled, and he made a valiant attempt to paddle out of the way, but just as he feared, it was too late. It rose from the water and the waves began tearing the wooden craft apart. He fell over the side and was overtaken by the blinding cold, blacking out for a split second, before grasping onto what was left of his boat.
How did I even get here? he thought, What has happened to me? Tears streamed down his face, mixing with the ocean water that drenched him to his very core. Nearby, a very old looking book floated atop the water. Clutching to the shattered pieces of wood that were once a boat, he looked from the book, to the enormous thing that emerged from the deep, all tentacles and eyes of crimson, a thing of horror from the pits of hell, a terror only seen in the dreams of the depraved and conjured from the depths of insanity. A profound evil unleashed upon this earth.
“Oh god.” He said aloud, “What have I done?”
As the waves enveloped him, as he gasped his final breath, the man did not see his life flash before his eyes. He did not wonder who would miss him, no, he did not mourn his own death. Instead, he mourned that he had no time or means to warn anyone, to let everyone else see this mass of horrible scales and claws and tentacles, that no one would know what was coming. But none of that mattered, now.
Everyone would know soon enough.
Every thing is a matter of contrasts. Life versus death, dark versus light. The universe is made of them. The world can be a loud and terrible place when cast upon it is the unforgiving brilliance of daylight. People shout and run and push the less fortunate out of their way, all while they travel across this tiny rock under the harsh and hot sun. They feel a sense of security during the day they dare not feel at night, no, not while the moon casts her shadows and the world bathes in darkness. For others, these roles are reversed, as they flinch and whimper and squirm as the sun bears down on them, as though the light was shining on them and them alone, as though the light burns through to their souls. But at night, as the red hot bitch sinks over the horizon and her pale sister rises in the east to greet the freaks and vagrants, they slink out from their holes like vampires exiting their crypts and they breathe a sigh of relief as they dance off into the shadows.
Such contrasts stand as a universal truth, as monoliths of reason that exist to mock the tempest of foolishness and insanity swirling around them, trying their damnedest to corrode them into dust.
It was three fifteen in the morning and the man walked through the empty lot full of gravel and discarded beer bottles, he walked over the grassy hill and ran his hand along the chain link fence, allowing his fingertips to dance across the cold metal. The wind pushed him forward, blowing his hair into his eyes, and it filled the air with a soft hum. He stepped off of the curb and walked the four paces it took him to reach the center of the highway. He looked north, then south, but saw no headlights, no taillights, no sign that anyone had passed in either direction. To him, it felt as though no one had passed here in years. He stood there, in the middle of the highway, one of the many circuits that connect city to city and provide people with a clean and safe path to see their loved ones or to find new ones. He reached down and dusted a section of the asphalt with his hand, right across the faded twin yellow lines that separated the road in half, and he gently sat down. He crossed his legs in front of him, he closed his eyes, and he waited.
Time has such capacity to amaze. It crawls at a maddening pace when we are aware of it, yet it speeds past us in the blink of an eye. We are but specks in the stream, lost and alone and grasping for any bit of solidity we can find, hoping to slow the stream or indeed stop it if possible. All too often, we are pulled under, we lose sight of land, we lose our footing and the rushing waters engulf us, never to let go again.
She was turning forty in only a few days and she wondered aloud what that meant. She wondered how she grew so old so fast, she remembered her childhood so clearly, and she wondered when time would stop for her. When the world would cease it’s rotation and when she would slip out of this world of physicality and into the next, more spiritual, plane of existence. Will it be tomorrow? she pondered, Or will I live to be a hundred years old, all wrinkles and wisdom? She drove on into the night and she looked down at the bright blue numbers that shone 3:16am from the shadows, but when she looked up from them, she screamed. She turned the wheel sharply to the left and as her car careened into a spiral of flying metal and terror, as the headlights fell upon the figure in the center of the highway, she had but a moment to think Is that a man? before the car landed with a crash, wrong-side up. The roof forced sparks of fire to leave the ground as it slid, however smoothly, across the blistered asphalt road. It came to a stop and the night fell silent.
It is a widely held belief that there are no coincidences in this universe. It is simply too convenient an answer to all of the complexities of existence, both in this space and the space beyond, to say that it is all a series of coincidences that should be brushed aside and ignored as commonplace occurrences. The vastness of it all, the thought of multiplicity among universes. To cast such impertinence upon these things would be dire. No, things happen for a reason. Cause and effect, every thing linked to every other thing in a boggling maze of design as to reduce the most brilliant of human minds to madness, as human minds are still feeble things in the face of such circumstance.
He opened his eyes. How long had they been closed? He smelled the smoke and felt the heat of the fire radiate against his skin. He stood and stretched his arms and walked to the flaming wreckage. He knelt down and peered into the window. He grimaced, then turned away. Not tonight. he thought as he walked back over the grassy hill. The moon hung low in the sky and glowed eerily against a sky with no stars. The screeching howl of ambulance sirens pierced the air and he was gone.
I’ve seem to be hitting writer’s block far too often now. My grade in my creative writing class is suffering because i don’t turn in anything because i’m never really satisfied with anything i do. all my good ideas seem to turn into bad ones once i write it down. How do you get pass writers block?
You turn off your inner critic. You do not listen to your inner police force. You ignore the little voices that tell you that it’s all stupid, and you keep going.
Your grade isn’t suffering because your writing is bad, it’s suffering because you aren’t finishing things and handing them in.
So, finish them and hand them in. Even if a story’s lousy, you’ll learn something from it that will be useful as a writer, even if it’s just “don’t do that again”.
You’re always going to be dissatisfied with what you write. That’s part of being human. In our heads, stories are perfect, flawless, glittering, magical. Then we start to put them down on paper, one unsatisfactory word at a time. And each time our inner critics tell us that it’s a rotten idea and we should abandon it.
If you’re going to write, ignore your inner critic, while you’re writing. Do whatever you can to finish. Know that anything can be fixed later.
Remember: you don’t have to brilliant when you start out. You just have to write. Every story you finish puts you closer to being a writer, and makes you a better writer.
Blaming “Writer’s Block” is wonderful. It removes any responsibility from the person with the “block”. It gives you something to blame, and it sounds fancy.
But it’s probably more honest to think of it as a combination of laziness, perfectionism and Getting Stuck. If you’re being lazy, don’t be. If you’re being a perfectionist, don’t be. And if you’re stuck, figure out where the story went off the rails, or what you got wrong, or where you need to go deeper, or what you need to add to make it work, and then start writing again.
“Did you hear the news?” was the question du jour. I heard it when I got up in the morning, it came blaring out of my alarm clock by way of some annoying morning talk radio personality whose name I didn’t care to catch. After I showered and ate a sensible breakfast of pop tarts and a shot of whiskey, after I locked my apartment door and took the stairs because of the elevator that hasn’t been fixed since I moved in, once I hopped into the back of a cab, I heard it again. The cab driver had to repeat it, his accent was thick and awful but not from the country you might be thinking of. I like to remain silent in taxis, I find you never know who knows the driver and it’s generally best to stick to the minimum amount of small talk required in those situations. I stepped through the door at work and I heard it from three different people in as many minutes and then I heard it last from the man who signs my paychecks, the only time I’d heard the question and actually felt obligated to give some sort of answer.
“Did you hear the news?” he asked. I coughed and muttered something. “What?”
“Yeah.” I said, “Damn shame.”
“Another pop star gone from the night sky of celebrity, eh?”
“Absolutely.” I said, “Well put.”
We exchanged niceties and he cobbled together a few more Frankenstein worthy phrases using a smattering of buzz words and pop culture references before he had to leave to catch an important phone call. I was glad to see him go but afraid of what our chat meant for the rest of my day. Did the others see me acknowledge the latest news story? Did they hear me converse with this skinny tie wearing douchebag with a five dollar haircut about which retroactively beloved celebrity passed away yesterday morning? Maybe they did, and maybe they didn’t, but if they did they might approach me and try to use that to strike up conversations of our very own. I hate conversing with co-workers because of the futility of it. We might as well be speaking foreign languages at one another, for all the looks of confusion that pass across our faces. I never have anything to talk to them about and all of the topics they bring up are things I’ve no interest in ever hearing about, let alone hearing about while I try to smile politely and nod.
“Tim, hey.” said the round man with glasses. Here we go, I thought.
“So, big story huh?” he said. I fought the urge to scream and nodded. “It really makes you think.”
“How so?” I asked like someone who cared. I don’t know why I asked it or what sort of answer I was expecting, but it happened and now it was too late to do anything about it but smile and listen.
“Well, I mean there are people holding candlelight vigils and donating money to charities doing everything to make sure that no one forgets the name of a singer or an actor.” he said. “It makes you wonder who will remember you when you die, you know?”
The round man with the glasses was right, though I hated to admit it. Listening to his words, they made a lot of sense, too much sense. That was the end of me for the day, those last words of his, It makes you wonder who will remember you when you die, you know?
It did make me wonder, it did make me think, I wandered the halls from that moment on, lost in my own mind. After all, who were these people? These singers, these actors, the rich and famous and out of reach of the rest of us. No work was completed that day, there was simply no way I could focus on anything other than the existential crisis I had just stumbled into. The thought of calling in sick crossed my mind that morning, as it does all mornings before I pry myself from bed, but never before had I regretted not doing it more than this day. I sat at my desk and sipped from my coffee and cursed when I realized, all too late, that it had gone cold.
“You got a minute?” asked the man who signs my paycheck, leaning into my office without a knock. I nodded and motioned for him to come in, which he did. “I need to know when you’ll be finished with that piece I asked you about. Hey, are you okay? You look worried about something.”
“Hmm?” was the only noise I could make. “I need to go home.” I said.
“What are you, sick?” he asked, taking a few steps back and out of my office door. “I don’t want to get sick.”
I slid my jacket on and patted his shoulder as I walked by him.
“We’re all sick. We’re all dying of the same disease.” I said. He didn’t respond.
I made my way through the building slowly as I thought hard on the subject at hand. Am I becoming jaded? I thought, No, that happened years ago. But why? Why did I care about so many people throwing their love and attention away on the passing of someone they had never met or even been in the same room with? Why did the thought that an actor or a singer or a television personality would be remembered more fondly than I would after finally kicking the bucket make me feel sick to my stomach?
I took the elevator to the lobby floor, more a luxury than a convenience given my living conditions, and the questions kept flooding my mind. It wasn’t that I wanted a million people to miss me or light a candle for me or hold a moment of silence to commemorate my death, I didn’t want any of that. I only wanted for one person to grant me even a fraction of the love that these famous bastards, these Hollywood martyrs, received and ignored. Not in death, but in life. That’s when it hit me, an epiphany from the depths of my own mind, as I stepped out of the building and on to the sidewalk. None of these people even know my name. I thought, They call me every name under the sun that is not my own. Tim, Joe, Rich. These cretins see me as a meal ticket, a dispensary of words that they can turn into money. They don’t know who I am as a person.
I was alone when I stepped off that sidewalk and into the street, not just as a singular person performing a seemingly harmless action, but as a person who has realized that he has no true friends or family in the world, no one who truly knows who he is, and thus no one who would truly miss him should he leave the physical world.
I heard the truck’s horn fill the air before the screeching of it’s tires and as I saw my reflection in the metallic teeth of it’s grill, moments before it struck me, I shouted one thing.
“My name is Roger Phillips!”
Then it all went dark.
Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE. — Joss Whedon (via misswallflower)
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. — Ernest Hemingway (via ilovereadingandwriting)
(Source: koti.mbnet.fi, via ilovereadingandwriting)